We get it: he's an economist. He cares about numbers, and finance, and GDP, and whatever. Last week, while arguing in Question period with the NDP about Canada's military engagements, Harper fell victim to Godwin's Law by arguing that the NDP didn't even support fighting Hitler. Never mind that the NDP didn't exist, this is Harper's History. Fortunately, most Canadians -- especially those with some knowledge of our past -- were able to offer a corrective. Then #harpershistory started trending on Twitter.
Canadians learn about our past in many ways. One of the most satisfying -- though not always the most accessible -- is a trip to the National Archives. With its immense collection, helpful staff, and welcoming atmosphere, the Library and Archives of Canada has been instrumental to shaping the way Canadians think about our past. It's not just a place for grad students, professors, and super nerds. It is a public space for all Canadians.
Well, that has changed. The Harper Government™(which, it should be noted, is bent on rebranding Canada's history to mirror official military and fiscal policy) has cut funding the Library and Archives. Staff will be laid off, and the public will not have to make an appointment to meet with an archivist. This comes a few months after the public learned that booking a room at the Archives would be increasingly difficult because government officials would be given first dibs.
And things are little better around the globe. "Understanding Canada", a project of the Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade, has also been chopped. Grants from this project were used to fund Canadian Studies programmes around the world.
A more paranoid person than I might wonder if Harper is working to ensure that #harpershistory is more difficult to challenge, question, or debate. As a friend, scholar, and avid supporter of Canadian studies abroad noted today, the silver lining might be "we don't really want the world to know this version of Canada."
---------Edited to add this link, which neatly summarizes Harper's vision of Canada.